With prep finally underway for the show’s fifth season, my focus has shifted from this blog to the production. That said, I’m well aware that many of you check in here on a regular basis fully expecting a daily entry. Well, rather than disappoint anyone, it’s at times like these when I call on my friends to help pick up the slack. In this case, Cookie Monster and Baron Destruto who have been kind enough to drop in today and offer some dvd and movie reviews. But be warned – spoilers abound!
SNAKES ON A PLANE
Reviewed by Cookie Monster
Snakes on a Plane be good, old-fashioned fun popcorn movie. Minus fun. And not very good. Or old-fashioned. Also, no popcorn. Still, for movie dat make hardly any sense, it move along at brisk pace. What little story dere is about guy who taking flight from Hawaii to Los Anjelees to testify against mobster. But mobster find easy way to keep him from to testify. He put crateful of crazy poisonous snakes on plane! So simple, Cookie Monster surprised we don’t see dis happen more often. Airport security always checking shoes, but never checking innocent-looking crate of snakes. Something to tink about.
Anyway, halfway through flight door on snake crate blow open. At dis point, Cookie Monster tink “Hey, wait minute. If able to sneak bomb on board for to blow up crate door, why not just sneak bigger bomb on board for to blow up plane?” But Cookie Monster not film producer, so not have answer. Snakes get loose. Lots of people get bited. Some unlucky and die right away. Some lucky (aka – bigger stars) and hang around for a while. Snakes not only angry, but very spiteful. Sometimes bite, sometimes climb into people’s eyes and mouths, sometimes slither by in foreground of shot and wink at camera. People in business class more lucky because no snakes upstairs in deir section, but not so lucky later when riffraff finally reckon dey be better off not flying coach. Figuring dat out easy part. Figuring out how to climb stairs much, much harder. Staircase collapse and everyone fall down onto waiting snakes, making great case for why some people not cut out for first class travel. Luckily, FBI agent Samuel L. Jackson on board and he get in touch with “hardcore” snake expert played by actor who either make decision to play character sleepy-drunk or not bother to learn lines so look like he read dem off back of car headrest. Expert get anti-venom ready. Sam tell everyone to buckle up, den shoot out window. Plane decompress and snakes all sucked out (and presoomably land on unlucky picnickers and sunbathers). Sammy J. land plane. Phew! Nightmare over. Or is it? No because now dey make Snakes on a Train.
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Reviewed by Baron Destructo
Has anyone else happened to notice the growing divide between critics and the general movie-going public? While the great unwashed make box office hits of the likes of Meet the Spartans and Enchanted, movie critics are heaping praise on cryptic and increasingly inaccessible films like There Will Be Blood and Michael Clayton. What has caused this increasingly widening rift? Is the general movie-going public really that much stupider than they were, oh, ten years ago? Baron Destructo would argue yes, yes they are. On the other hand, have the endless movie-watching demands of their jobs rendered critics so jaded and cynical that they’ll laud any movie for the mere act of breaking established filmic convention? Again, Baron Destructo would argue yes, yes they have.
No Country for Old Men is a brilliant three-quarters of a movie. Beautifully shot and wonderfully acted, it had me and the rest of the League of Aliens and Mutants for Evil on the edge of our Corinthian leather recliners. Javier Bardem’s portrayal of the dispassionately ruthless killer Anton Chigurh is chilling and more than a little reminiscent of a young Count Sinister. Yet, for some reason, the film ultimately eschews its taut, suspenseful narrative to – a) kill off the protagonist off-screen, and b) continue along matter-of-factly some twenty minutes past it’s dramatically satisfying conclusion. The Baron would argue that there is a good reason the three-act structure has become so entrenched as a way of telling a story on the big screen. BECAUSE IT WORKS! While the Baron won’t go so far as to say it’s a hard and fast rule that should never be broken, he will argue that there should be a good reason for doing so. And the breaking of tradition for the simple sake of being different is not so much a statement as it is an affected FU to the audience.
Of course, like most associations, the League of Aliens and Mutants for Evil boasts its fair share of pseudo-intellecti and preening cognoscenti, and they have been quick to disagree with the Baron…
“But the Josh Brolin character wasn’t the protagonist,”argues the Malevolater. “The Sheriff played by Tommy Lee Jones shares in this role, so the decision to dispatch of Josh’s character off-screen and about a half an hour before the final credits is a sound one.”
– “Your cervo implants must be messing up your synaptic plasticity,”the Baron counters. “A film’s protagonist is it’s hero, the character driving the action. The Tommy Lee Jones character, on the other hand, was a passive entity, a commentator/philosopher more akin to Ancient Greek drama’s Chorus. To suggest otherwise is ridiculous.”
“But that’s the way it happened in the book!”argues the Malevolater.
– “So what?”is the Baron’s response. “Perhaps the most important aspect of adapting a book to the big screen is in translating the written word to the visual medium, giving the source material life within the filmic framework. The book and the movie are separate entities and should be appreciated as such. ”
In the end, the Baron doesn’t mind the odd artistic peculiarities. In truth, he has attended more of Glaxnor the Miscreant’s performance art shows than he would care to admit to. But, again, it must make sense within the framework of the movie. Take the Sheriff’s post-shooting visit to the motel room. He stands outside, anxious, perhaps a little fearful. We cut inside to reveal the Chigurh character inside, seemingly waiting for him. Eventually, the Sheriff heads inside and – Chigurh is not there. What happened? Did he dislocate his skeletal structure and slip out through the air conditioning vent like the Purple Lamprey escaping the clutches of Justice Incorporated as Princess Arcana suggested? No. According to the actor who played Chigurh, his character was never in the room. “It was a manifestation of the Sheriff’s fear,”explained the Malevolater. To which the Baron counters: “Is your adreno-serum screwing with your basal ganglia? How the hell can he possibly imagine someone he has never met before?”
What made this experience so frustrating for the Baron was the fact that No Country for Old Men IS a truly great movie up to a certain point, and then it seemingly ceases to care – about its characters, its audience, and what has come before. The Baron is reminded of the incredibly unsatisfying conclusion to The Sopranos and how faux wunderkinds tripped all over one another to celebrate its out-of-the-box finale, meticulously deciphering supposed clues in the narrative – hidden symbols, turns of the phrase – that, in their minds, presented irrefutable evidence that Tony Sopranos had been killed off at series’ end. Painstakingly conceived theories that were, in the end, completely upended when show creator/finale writer David Chase revealed that – No, Tony Sopranos was, in fact, not dead.
Fie! The Baron yearns for the day when the broad chasm between the cinema dilettante and the masses of mouth-breathers is finally bridged. When we can all unite in our adoration of movies like Braveheart and The Silence of the Lambs. When he can spend a peaceful movie night with his fellow megalomaniacal mates without having to resort to his fire gauntlets to get the Malevolater to shut the hell up! Is it really so much to ask?
Today’s entry is dedicated to Rachel and our friends in the Southern U.S.
Today’s mailbag –
Narellefromaus writes: “I’ve decided to read another Iain Banks novel. You recommend both The Player of Games and Use of Weapons. Do you have a preference of one over the other?”
Answer: They’re both excellent – but I would lean toward Player of Games.
Thornyrose writes: “You’ve indicated McGillion is onboard for 5 episodes. Do you already have outlines for those stories, or are you planning to write the scripts now that you know you have the character?”
Answer: One of Beckett’s appearances has already been scripted. Another two have been outlined and about to be written. And, at this point, we have a vague idea for two more.
Karen writes: “Can you reassure us that Zelenka will be back?”
Answer: Yes, rest assured Zelenka will be back for the show‘s fifth season. As will Lorne.
JoJoB writes: “Oh, and another point about Keller, not everyone who skips grades and graduates early has a miserable childhood. I skipped two grades and graduated high school at 16 1/2. I had no “fitting in” problems. I went to dances, to my prom, was in the marching band, the chorus, played sports and was a normal high schooler. The only problem I had was that I was the only senior who had to take the bus to school since the driving age in New Jersey is 17. I had to live on campus my freshman year of college since I still wasn’t old enough to drive. My experiences didn’t ostracize me. I married my college sweetheart, we have a beautiful daughter and just celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. I have a successful career, too.”
Answer: Congratulations to you. However, I’m sure it’s remotely possible that others have had very different experiences.
Kate writes: “Only letting through the good stuff, hey Joe?”
Answer: Actually, if you’d bothered to read through the preceding comments, you would have noticed there’s a good mix of opinion here. I just have zero tolerance for obnoxious posters. But I’ll make an exception in your case.
Kate also writes: “…you got rid of Elizabeth because she wasn’t leadership material because Atlantis was at war, right, and you needed someone military.”
Answer: I believe you’re confusing the behind-the-scenes decision on the character and the ensuing in-show explanation for the change.
Kate also writes: “You may as well rename the show “Stargate: Crybabies”.”
Answer: I think that would be a far more appropriate title for your comment.
Kate also writes: “The decisons to get rid of Beckett and Weir, the decisions to switch to Carter and Keller, and now the decision to bring in Woolsey as a leader — […] — will go down in scifi history as some of the dumbest things ever done.”
Answer: I don’t know. It’s gonna be tough to up-end those ewoks from the top spot.
Kate also writes: “You need your head read.”
Answer: You mean like phrenology? Please. I don’t buy into that antiquated mumbo jumbo, preferring instead the far more grounded practices of galvanism and moxibustion.
Kate also writes: “If you haven’t even spoken to Torri, or decided how many episodes you want her for, isn’t it a little presumptuous to be telling fans she’ll be back?”
Answer: Not necessarily.
Ascended Tauri writes: “Will we see the Wraith worshiper that escaped at the end of ‘Reunion’ return this season, or in Season 5?”
Answer: We’ll be seeing Tyre (played by Mark Dacascos) in season 5’s Broken Ties.
Jenn writes: “ Will the focus of the show still be on the team (i.e. Sheppard, Teyla, Ronon and McKay) in season 5?”
Answer: Yes, both as a team and as individuals.
Kamilla writes: “I was wondering who wrote these last episodes of season four?”
Answer: Midway – Carl Binder, Trio – Martin Gero, Kindred I – Joseph Mallozzi, Kindred II – Alan McCullough, The Last Man – Paul Mullie.
Fargate writes: “Do you consider Mrs Claudia Black to play Porter’s character?”
Khyrra writes: “In regards to Sheppard knowing McKay’s password in “Quarantine”: did we ever actually see Rodney tell John the code? It seems like I remember such a scene, but no one on the SciFi Channel board can find it(several of us have been scanning transcripts). Are we all crazy, or did it happen offscreen?”
Answer: I’m sorry to say that, yes, you are crazy.
Ernie writes: “I have a question as I was watching some of SG-1 Seasons. I noticed a lot of the episodes are labeled with the actors as Executive Producers or writers. Like RDA as Executive Producer and Christopher Judge as writer. Is this something that the actors wanted to do to help their career or something fun for them?”
Answer: Rick started on the show as an executive producer. As for Chris, he always expressed an interest in writing an episode and eventually did – The Changeling. He went on to write several more and is presently shopping a pilot he wrote – Rage of Angels. I think writing is definitely something Chris enjoys, although I think you’d have to ask him for the details.